August 26th, 2019

Reiss’s Pieces

Back when the dinosaurs roamed, I was in high school. And although my class was big back then, in reality it wasn’t “big” by today’s standards. Although I am never quite sure, I think that there was 130 in our class. But what I think is interesting as I look back was this. Back then you either took a college preparatory track or a business/secretarial one. And this meant that you took classes that would help you prepare for what type of job you hoped to have when “you grew up”. I took the college prep track except instead of having a study hall I took typing, which was thought of as very outrageous back then! But I did it anyway and have always thought that it was probably one of the best classes that I ever took. Believe, I have used typing a lot more than I ever used algebra or geometry!

But what I found then and still find funny is that in my Spanish class there were eight students and of those eight, three were named Judy. And I have to tell you that for the twenty-five (25!) years I owned and ran the day care center at Sugarbush I never ever had a little girl named Judy. Now, most of us who were named Judy when I was were all born in 1939 which was just when Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz exploded onto the silver screen, so I can only assume that is why Judy was such a popular name. Even today when I meet someone my age there is always a chance that her name will be Judy. But the baby girls who are born now? Never a Judy in the bunch.

I think what made me think about names was just the other day when I went and had lunch with several of my good friends, who are all in and around my age. And their names were Alice, Ruth and Theresa. And several friends who couldn’t make it were Mary, Jane, Jeanne and Nancy. Now, if you are close to my age these names seem friendly and comfortable. But if you take the time to listen to the names of the young children of today, you won’t find a Nancy, a Jane or a Jeanne in the bunch! It would seem that names, especially of girls, seem to go by the century. However, it is my opinion that many of today’s names aren’t names at all, but are just made up sounds that the mother thought or thinks sounds nice. And these names are very subjective to the crazy parent.

Just to prove to you that names definitely come and go, let me tell you what the names of my grandmothers and their sisters. My grandmother Bragdon was named Lena and her two sisters were Blanche and Velna and their mother was Mercy. And my nana Ayers was named Gladys and her two sisters were Viola and Jessie and their mother was Augusta. And I have to tell you that when I was young I thought those were the absolutely worst name I ever heard of! I don’ know where they came from but I assume that they were probably family names that someone liked, at the time.

I have to admit that my granddaughter Katie Mei did have a friend when she was younger named Lena, but other than her, I have never really known anyone to have those names. Now, obviously I don’t know what your name is, but I am willing to bet that many of you have names that are very familiar and user-friendly to me!

I guess that names are picked by names that we hear in the news, on the radio, read in a magazine or a newspaper or see in the movies. My parents always said that I wasn’t named after Judy Garland but was named after a dog that they got when they were first married. Of course, she was named after Judy Garland so to deny the celebrity connection was silly.

I am not suggesting that you attempt to influence the young parents of today to give their child a family name instead of making one up from their scrabble game because it probably won’t work. Parents decide what to name their little angel and those of us who are grandparents don’t really have a say in the process. All you can do is hope that you can pronounce the name or worse, figure out how to spell it on a check!

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